Mark B: So many to choose from here… who to pick? Pyramid Head, with his violent actions and an existence devoted solely to torturing those who feel they deserve it (well, sometimes)? Tyrant, an unstoppable biological monstrosity of epic proportions bent on killing everything it sees? Nemesis, a single-minded monster with a horrifying guttural roar, with only one purpose: to kill you and everyone you’re associated with? Scissorman, a homicidal killer bent on murdering you for reasons you don’t even know?
Nah. I’m going to go with SHODAN.
Now, technically, System Shock and its sequel aren’t “horror”Â games in the traditional sense of the concept, but they were certainly horrifying as hell: the feeling of loneliness the games inspired in you as the player, combined with the horrific monstrosities you were expected to do battle with, certainly made the game horrifying enough on its own merits, and most of the concepts System Shock innovated have since been used, less successfully, in more commercially successful games (Bioshock, Doom 3 and Deadspace come to mind). But SHODAN is really the element that makes System Shock, as a franchise, what it is: a cold, calculating, artificial abomination, with no interest in anything but becoming a god, who manipulates the very world you exist in to her own ends, for no reason other than because she can? Hey, it’s certainly not a new idea (I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream pretty much nailed that concept down pat with AM), but it’s absolutely an effective one, and if Harlan Ellison wasn’t deathly afraid of computers, I think he’d be able to appreciate SHODAN for what she is: a perfect representation, in the digital medium, of what AM was really supposed to be… a computerized bully who derives pleasure in making you suffer.
Aileen Coe: Lorenzo from Haunting Ground is like the Energizer Bunny – no matter how many times you try to kill him, he just keeps going and going and going… He even crawls out of a pit of lava to pursue poor Fiona. Dude’s got quite the fixation, to say the least. In addition to outrunning his flaming walking skeleton (as one touch from him equals death), there’s also tremors, a jammed door, and a falling statue to impede your escape. Oh, and Hewie can’t attack him. It’s enough to induce thrombosis in the weak of heart, especially when that accursed statue falls on you and you can see his conflagrant figure gaining on you as you’re trying to push it back up and off of you.
ML Kennedy: The scariest bad guy in gaming is now, and will always be, the giant Mario eating fish in Super Mario Bros. 3.
Maybe I should have said the scariest bad guys.
Even Bowser doesn’t kill Mario in one hit, but these things just swallow up that fat plumber like he was a handful of M&Ms. These scaly devils are more frightening than a room full of radioactive octopuses.
To look upon them is to look upon the face of pure evil.
Those among you with heart problems should not click here.
Guy Desmarais: It took me many years to overcome my senseless fear of the beast, but for a while, Goro from Mortal Kombat was the scariest antagonist I had ever seen. He’s not scary in the classic sense; except for the abnormal limbs count, he’s not completely horrible. He’s just a very imposing presence.
From the start of the fight, you just can’t help but notice that the guy is about two times taller than any other character you have faced to get there. Then you start realizing that his fighting style is like nothing you have seen before.
And then… wait, what is he doing? Oh my God I’m in a bear hug and I’m getting my face smashed in! STOP IT! And what’s next? Oh thank God he disappeared to the bottom of the screen– WAIT! He’s coming at me from above! And he’s stomping me to bits with his giant toeless feet! My ribcage is crushed, my lungs are probably collapsing… whew, it’s over.
And that’s the way it was for me for a couple of months. Goro taught me fear by intimidation. The imposing physique, the creepy atmosphere of his stage, everything about him made me feel small and vulnerable. The day I finally defeated him was one of celebration, and I would have popped the champagne had I not been so underage.
Alexander Lucard: You’ll notice most of us haven’t taken a character from a horror game as our scariest antagonist ever. This probably says something about the genre in general. I too have to step outside the realm of Survival Horror and enter the realm of…turn based RPG’s. Yes that’s right. My scariest antagonist may look a bit comical, but he’s easily the hardest boss fight I have ever had to deal with in my years as a gamer. His name is Borgan and he comes from the Sega CD version of Lunar: Eternal Blue. When they remade L:EB for the Playstation, I was a bit nervous because I didn’t want to have to deal with the magic experience point Vs. real experience points madness. I also didn’t want to have to deal with the insane nightmare that was the morbidly obese Black Wizard, Borgan. Thankfully (no longer) Working Designs And Game Arts excised the Magic XP debacle and weakened Borgan dramatically. The funny thing is, even the PSX pussified Borgan is still a very hard boss? But the Sega CD version? Man, he was nigh unbeatable. If you could beat Borgan, you would be able to finish the rest of the game in your sleep.
In the PSX version of Lunar: Eternal Blue, Borgan was only a single target. In the Sega CD version, he was FOUR. You had Borgan and three orbs, and you had to figure out the order in which to attack them all while Borgan launched that [INSERT A LOT OF PROFANITY HERE – THE AMOUNT OF WHICH WOULD MAKE A SAILOR BLUSH] Gravity Bomb spell of his. Oh, how I hate Borgan. I hate him so much!
I have yet to meet a person who has played the Sega CD version of Eternal Blue who doesn’t swear, develop a twitch, or have a story to tell about the horror that is Borgan. He is scary because he is hard. He is scary because he is cheap. He is scary because he’s harder than Zophar and Ghaleon put together. He is scary because even if you mindlessly grind your characters up, you won’t be ready for him.
But of course with the Sega CD long since dead, just like Working Designs, none of you will ever have to experience the fat cruelty that is Borgan. The closest you can come is tracking down the remake for the PSX, and thankfully this Borgan is a lot easier. Oooh, Borgan bad.